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Matt Mattare (left) and Bradley Lankler
Matt Mattare (left) and Bradley Lankler
LAUREL, New York (August 5, 2017) – The 115th Met Amateur Championship at Laurel Links Country Club is down to the final two as Bradley Lankler of Fiddler’s Elbow and Matt Mattare of Darlington picked up semifinal victories and will square off in Sunday’s 36-hole championship match. Lankler defeated James Nicholas of Deepdale by a 5-and-4 margin, while Mattare held off John Felitto of Echo Lake in 19 holes, draining a lengthy birdie putt to advance.

Both competitors have maintained a high level of play all week long, beginning with their matching 36-hole totals of 1-over 143, which led the way in stroke-play qualifying.

While Felitto won the first two holes, Mattare remained patient in the matchup that featured a pair of Notre Dame guys—Felitto entering his sophomore season and Mattare a 2008 graduate. Mattare, the runner-up in the 2012 Met Amateur, won three holes to just one for Felitto between Nos. 5-9. His swing on the par-three ninth which led to birdie also settled him in for the inward nine. “On nine, I hit a great nine-iron into like three feet and made birdie,” he said. “That kind of got my tempo and rhythm a little bit.”

Once his tempo was on, the putter also came alive for Mattare. “The putter got hot and I made a couple really good ones,” he said. Birdies began to fly for both players, as Mattare won Nos. 13 and 15 to go 1-up, just to see Felitto birdie the par-five 17th to square the match. The putter then clinched the victory for Mattare on the par-five first, as he sank a 15-footer to advance.

“When you get to this level and this part of the tournament, it’s all about who makes the putts,” said Mattare. “Early in the round I wasn’t making putts, and late in the round I was. It was a great match—really well played.”

“Tomorrow, 36 holes, it’s a marathon,” said Mattare. “You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low… You just kind of have to pace yourself all day, be consistent, and just play your own game.”

Meanwhile, Lankler took control early in his match against rising Yale junior Nicholas, winning four of the first five holes—two of which were with birdie. “I was able to take advantage of the first couple holes and get a nice early lead and just kind of build from there,” said Lankler, a recent graduate from Franklin & Marshall. “From there, you gain the confidence and you can kind of keep rolling with it.”

For Lankler, one particular swing early in the match set the tone for the round. “I was around 150 yards and I knew that I was a little down wind and I knew if I hit just a soft 9-iron with a little butter cut on it, that’d be perfect,” said Lankler, describing his second shot on the par-four 4th. “When it landed close to the hole, that was kind of the swing for the day so we kind of took that and applied it to every other shot after that—so there was an 8-iron on nine, 10 a similar thing on 13 with an 8-iron as well.”

Lankler pushed his lead to 5-up after a par-four on the challenging seventh hole, but Nicholas took the next as Lankler missed his first fairway of the day and took an unplayable just to punch out. He quickly got the hole back though as he continued to strike solid iron shots and secured par on the par-three ninth.

Routine pars continued for Lankler, while Nicholas’ game was just a touch off and he was unable to put a run together. The pair halved Nos. 10-14, leading to Lankler’s 5-and-4 win. “It’s huge,” said Lankler of finishing up several holes early. “We’re all tired out here. We definitely felt it and we were only on 14. We’ll get a good lunch, get a good dinner, get a good night’s sleep in and just let the adrenaline take care of it tomorrow.”

Laurel Links has shined during it’s first ever MGA championship, both with it’s course and support throughout the event. “I can’t say enough good things,” said Mattare. “The greens are perfect, the fairways are perfect, and it’s a great match play course.” The membership has also embraced the event with many coming out to watch the action.

Sunday’s 36-hole final begins at 7:30 a.m., with live hole-by-hole scores available, plus additional updates on Twitter and Instagram.

View results for Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur Golf Championship

ABOUT THE Metropolitan Amateur

The competition is open to male Amateur members of MGA Member Clubs who have a current USGA Handicap Index of 5.0 or less and to those exempted by the MGA Committee. All entrants are subject to the MGA Rules and Regulations. Format of play: 18 hole sectional qualifying round. Qualifiers play 36 hole on-site qualifying round, determining 16 players for match play.

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